Minister’s statement on Indigenous Veterans Day
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, has issued the following statement on Indigenous Veterans Day:
“Today, on Indigenous Veterans Day, we honour and celebrate the valiant service of Indigenous Peoples in missions across Canada and around the world. Serving overseas or on the home front, in times of conflict, war and peace, we acknowledge the tremendous contributions and sacrifices made by Indigenous veterans in the Canadian Armed Forces.
“Each year on this date, Canadians pause for a moment of silence in respect for the estimated 12,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit people from across this land who have served. Courageous Indigenous soldiers have an exemplary record of military service including in both World Wars, the Korean War, the Boer War and in recent conflicts across the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“Today, we remember soldiers like Dominic ‘Dick’ Patrick, who was one among 15 Sai’kuz soldiers who volunteered for service in the Second World War. He joined at least 3,000 First Nations members, including 72 women, who enlisted for duty. Patrick’s bravery at a battle in the village of Moerbrugge earned him the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished conduct.
“Despite their service and valour, many Indigenous veterans, including Patrick, returned home to face continued prejudice and discrimination.
“Patrick returned home to British Columbia, where he was refused restaurant service because he was Indigenous. That year, he was imprisoned 11 times for returning to that restaurant and repeatedly demanding fair and equal treatment. He is remembered by his family and community for his courage in fighting for Indigenous rights back home.
“Indigenous veterans and their families have fought throughout every step of our shared history to receive the recognition and commemoration that they deserve. Today, we collectively recognize and remember more than 200 years of military service by Indigenous communities across the country.
“I encourage all British Columbians to take a moment today to reflect and remember the contributions of Indigenous veterans and active service members.
“On this sombre day, we remember those who never came home. We also remember those who returned home forever changed by their service. Lest we forget.”